Paul Little at large

Paul Little is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Paul Little: Women: expect better from men

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Ana Eriepa. Photo / Doug Sherring
Ana Eriepa. Photo / Doug Sherring

I wonder if anyone read that Ana Eriepa was planning to stick with her boyfriend Sonny Waiti and thought, "Fair enough." Which of her mates put an arm around her shoulder and said, "Good on you, girl. You don't want to let one bad day come between you and the man of your dreams."

Sonny, you will recall, kidnapped Ana, with whom he had been living for the three weeks since he got out of jail, bundled her into the boot of his car and drove away.

She climbed out but got caught up and was dragged behind the car - bouncing up and down on the road like a dummy, according to witnesses - for some distance.

Among other injuries, she's had to have a foot off.

For many women, I'd like to think, that sort of treatment would be enough to make them stop and say, "Hey, time out." But not all women, obviously.

To talk about Eriepa's case risks revictimising her by making her an object of public criticism when she is no doubt keen to get on with her life.

However, it looks as though she might be going about that the wrong way.

Criticism doesn't seem to have much effect on her anyway. There's obviously been no shortage of frank talking from the family that loves her and whose pleas not to make the same mistake again have been ignored.

Refusing to confirm or deny whether she would marry the mongrel, Eriepa explained that he didn't know what he was doing because of the drugs. It must be a comfort to know he probably won't kidnap her when he's not high.

Whether you call it co-dependency or battered women's syndrome, women have to stop forgiving and forgetting atrocities committed on them by their partners.

Not to talk about this case is to let silence approve Eriepa's example.

Who are we to judge her?

We are the parents of girls who will grow up to encounter men like Sonny Waiti, that's who. And we want them to grow up without the risk of becoming some lout's victim.

It is possible to protect these girls so that nothing like this will ever happen to them, not because of their colour or class, but because they have been brought up to expect men to treat them with total respect. No matter what. No matter how big the lovable lug's heart is, or what drugs he had the misfortune to take before going berserk.

The key to ending the cycle of violence against women is to teach them not to put up with bad treatment at any level.

We are moved by stories of abuse of children because those children are helpless, but in some ways it is worse when the person being abused is an adult who is in a position to do something about it but refuses to.

People trapped in a cycle of poverty, drugs, violence and misery are doomed to stay there when, instead of demanding they act like something better than beasts, their relatives make excuses for them.

According to a newspaper story, Waiti's aunt had a perfectly reasonable explanation for what he did: "He's been through a lot, he has good intentions but just goes about things the wrong way."

At least that makes it clear that Waiti is the real victim.

You might have mistakenly thought it was the woman he treated like a trailer.

Some headlines we'll never see, suggested by recent events:

Warriors criticised for being boring, predictable

"I could be wrong": Ken Ring

Golden retriever mauls toddler

- NZ Herald

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